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AKLF 2024 to Light up Avenues for Embracing the Old-World Charm of Books

It can be recalled that Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival was the first literary festival to be held in the city of Kolkata, where the Kolkata Book Fair had been the mega event for decades.

Faridul Choudhury, 49, a school teacher at LEE Memorial School and an avid book lover, fondly remembers the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF) as a ray of light in the age of darkness where reading habits are being replaced by online scrolling. The old-world charm of crossing into another world through the prism of printed letters is still valuable for some. For thousands of such individuals, the AKLF is a place where authors get to discuss books with readers, get inspired, and ideas are exchanged among the readers.

Choudhary recounted a meeting with author Chandril Mukherjee in a recent literary meet where he shared his profound love for writer Moti Nandy, known for his novels based on the sports genre. Such unique sessions are the strength of AKLF, Faridul said, as he looked forward to visiting Allen Park where this festival will be held for three days. A plethora of Bengali and English authors participate in AKLF; its richness is truly worth exploring, he commented.

It can be recalled that AKLF was the first literary festival to be held in the city of Kolkata, where the Kolkata Book Fair had been the mega event for decades. At the time, the concept of a literary festival was relatively unknown. Interestingly, the success of AKLF has also propelled the organisers of the Book Fair to start the yearly Kolkata International Literary Festival five years ago. However, the attraction of the literary fest has only increased with time, said Bacchi Karkaria, a prominent journalist-editor who has been associated with AKLF from the start.

The festival is scheduled to take place on February 9, 10, and 11, featuring various sessions across multiple venues. While Allen Park will serve as the central hub, hosting the majority of the events, the Poetry Café is set to be hosted at Alliance Française du Bengale. Other noteworthy sessions will take place at the Oxford Bookstore, and a special session with Jerry Pinto and Anuja Chauhan is scheduled to be held at the Tollygunge Club. In the three days, more than 50 sessions will be held at the venue covering popular genre writers in science fiction, mystery, horror, fantasy, romance, and memoirs. A special focus will also be on environment and climate fiction, translations, feminist publishing, and OTT-film-stage-audio.

Several renowned publishing houses such as Speaking Tiger, Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Niyogi Books, Rupa Publications, Westland Books, Juggernaut, Simon and Schuster, Bloomsbury, Om Books, Zubaan Books, and many more will appear as festival partners, creating a collaborative literary environment.

The festival will host authors from Australia, France, the UK, and Singapore.

The AKLF 2024 boasts an impressive lineup of speakers, with 126 stalwarts gracing the occasion. Notable names include Anita Agnihotri, Aruna Chakravarti, Bickram Ghosh, Bittu Sahgal, Carina Rozenfeld, P. Chidambaram, Monideepa Banerjie, Pandit Kumar Bose, Pierre Bordage, Riddhi Sen, Sam Miller, Shaun Kenworthy, Tara Gandhi, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Urvashi Butalia, Ushoshi Sengupta, Veer Rajwant Singh, Vivaan Shah, among others

Book enthusiasts will also get to participate in the Oxford Junior Literary Festival (OJLF) featuring ‘meet the author’ interactive sessions, a dance workshop, word games, and storytelling.

This edition will witness the announcement of the shortlisted names for the prestigious Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize. The festival will also offer a first look of the upcoming works of distinguished authors, including Upamanyu Chatterjee, P. Chidambaram, Meghna Pant, Somnath Batabyal, Santanu Bhattacharya, and Pt Kumar Bose.

These announcements were made at an event attended by dignitaries, including Maina Bhagat, Director, AKLF; Anjum Katyal, Director, AKLF; Swagat Sengupta, CEO, Apeejay Oxford Bookstores; and Neeta Sreedharan, Programming Head, AKLF, who provided vital information about the 15th edition of the literary festival.

Established in 1919, Oxford Bookstore stands as one of the oldest heritage bookstores in the nation. It curates multiple literary festivals such as the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob, and Hindi Sahitya Utsav.

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